solarflareImagine for a moment that tomorrow everything blinked off. All sense of normalcy gone. No Internet. No phone. No electricity. Nothing. But darkness. What would you do? Well, if you’re not throwing yourself out of a window in panic or looting the local electronics store (duh), your next step would be to start doing whatever is necessary to survive. Things like hunting for food, finding water, and gathering firewood. But then what? Well, you’d probably reach out to others. That’s right, you’d turn to your network. And in turning to your network, you open your line of communication up to other networks. Eventually you’d come to find out that a massive solar flare torched north Asia and fried all power on the planet. Then you’d pass this information back down through your network to inform and enlighten others so that people could do what’s necessary to survive.

Don’t let the word ‘network’ throw you off. The idea of human connectivity has been around a lot longer than Twitter and Facebook. Yet, we focus so much on the tips and tricks regarding the medium(s) of communication we engage in that we tend overlook the basic fundamentals that make this technology so amazing in the first place. Why? Because fundamentals are too basic. Too obvious. Too simplistic. Who needs fundamentals?

We do.

To me there’s only one rule of Social Media – be human. And sorry, there are no shortcuts. When you’re sincere and compassionate here you become less of an avatar attached to a string of characters and more like an actual human. And because human beings are your audience, the more human you are – the more likely you are to develop your network. Social Media is about dialogue. Between real people. Just like in real life. Admittedly, a massive solar flare taking down the planet’s power grids is probably a little far fetched. But not impossible. The idea is that something like being a compassionate human being to those around you is the same in Social Media as it is in everyday life. So whether it’s oversimplified or not, if you really want to make the most of this technology, stop thinking of it as a new and tricky medium that you have to manipulate for maximum benefit and start looking at it for what it is – people talking with other people. And then talk. Because you never know when you’re going to have to rely on the compassion of others to see you through a dark stretch.

Be yourself and engage. Everything else will take care of itself.


Jim Mitchem

Whitewater Center
Rojo Toro

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.